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volume 11 number 2 february 2006 TipSheet

Welcome to the February issue of MicroMetric's TipSheet.

This monthly newsletter is targeted at addressing the needs of our customers.

This month we'll return to the subject of Backups.


When I was getting ready to write this TipSheet issue the planned subject was going to be personal security devices. I had ordered two such USB devices at the first of the month: one that has two parts - a USB receiver and a key chain transmitter, and the other that has only a USB card.

The latter device has not shown up yet - repeated calls yeild only a busy tone or a recording to leave a message. Repeated Email have had the same response as the phone messages.

With hindsight, I wish that the first device had gotten lost in shipment too. I had one of the techs install it on my computer. He had tested it on a system in the repair area several days earlier, and declared it to be a workable device. I found out how workable in short order - the operative word here is short. The manufacturer stated the device software would put up a screen saver if the distance between the transmitter and receiver exceeded about 6 feet. For me, the distance worked out closer to 6 inches! We put the device on a USB cable to get it closer to where I had the transmitter - in my pants pocket. At a distance of about a foot, the screen saver would still kick on once in a while. The idea of the device is great - If you leave your computer, a password protected screen saver kicks in. If you enter the password or if the transmitter comes within range, the screen saver kicks off. Great idea, lousy implementation.

So, I had the guys uninstall it. Fine so far. The next morning I updated some software, which required a reboot. The system got partway through and the screen went blank. After some unsuccessful attempts to restore the system on my part - it would boot ok in safe mode, I called Kirk and groveled (it was a Saturday) He graciosusly came in and worked on it for over an hour. The bottom line conclusion was that my profile was blown and couldn't be repaired. As I had no backup for the workstation the only solution was too create a new one and rebuild it.

Now let me tell you, two days into the exercise, this is a job I wouldn't wish on a dog. Quick Launch gone, registry data and settings gone. Application settings mostly gone - I was able to salvage some from the blown profile. And I'm mad. Not at the device manufacturer. Not at Microsoft's System Restore that didn't fix the problem. I'm mad at our organization and myself for not taking the minimal amount of time that it would have taken to backup the system state on a routine basis. Although Kirk says we have only seen the problem happen two or three times in the last several years, I've had it happen before and I should have known better. We practice what we preach as far as backing up data and programs on the server but not on the workstations.

I plan on backing up my system state to the server on a daily basis until I get it rebuilt, then on a weekly basis after that. In case of another disaster, I'll just need to sign on as administrator, wipe out the bad one, and restore the last backup.

So, I would up with a different subject for the month. We'll get back to the subject of personal security devices after some more research. The theory behind them is good - it's just the first two were duds.

Next month we'll expand on the personal backup, with some thoughts and recommendations from Kirk. However we'll begin this month to offer the monthly special that's been put together to address the problem, in place of the security special that was planned.

Copyright 2006, MicroMetric, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Permission to copy in total, with this statement and copyright, is hereby granted.

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